Black Petals Issue #81, Autumn, 2017

The Box with Pearl Inlay

Mars-Chris Friend
Big Bear-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Drogol's Institution-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Haunting of Hell House-Fiction by M. L. Fortier
Killing Time-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Nowhere Man in a Nowhere Land-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Surviving Montezuma-Chapters 11 & 12-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Box with Pearl Inlay-Fiction by Roy Dorman
What was Lacking?-Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor


The Box with Pearl Inlay


By Roy Dorman


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Johnny Simpson was nervous about being down by the loading docks alone after midnight. He kept his .38 leveled at the old man behind the counter.

“Did ya ever notice whenever there’s somethin’ valuable and it’s in one of these fancy boxes, turns out it’s dangerous too?” Johnny asked, licking his lips. “I seen that in the movies lotsa times.”

The old man smiled thinly at Johnny, having set the box on the counter. “It’s also that way in books. Maybe art imitates life,” he said, smiling more broadly.

“Yeah, well, I don’t read no books,” said Johnny, “and I don’t know nothin’ about art. I’m just doin’ my job.”

“Most of the time in those movies, the character like you has been told not to look in the box…”

“And they go ahead and do it anyhow. What’s up with that? Haven’t they ever been to the movies?”

“Maybe they have, but don’t think that life imitates art.”

The old man continued to smile. Johnny wondered how he’d gotten into this conversation. “Just gimme the box,” he said.

“I could transfer the contents of the box into a paper sack if it would make you feel more comfortable,” said the old man, sliding the box over to Johnny.

“I’m supposed to pick up a box. I don’t know nothin’ about its contents. Now, don’t call the cops or I’ll come back and kill ya. Me, I think the smart thing to do would be to kill ya, but my boss said just the box—nobody gets killed.”

Johnny picked up the box and walked backward to the door, keeping his gun on the old man.

“If he didn’t say anything about looking inside, you could probably do that,” said the old man.

“Fuck you, old man,” said Johnny, as he backed into the closed door and jangled the overhead bell. “Fuck you.”

Outside, before the door had closed completely, Johnny heard the old man laughing. He shuddered. It was a laugh he’d heard at the movies. Johnny knew after that laugh the person who had been laughed at did something really dumb in the next scene and paid the price for it. He’d seen that happen lotsa times.


The End?



Roy Dorman,, of Madison, WI, who wrote BP #81’s “Nowhere Man in Nowhere Land” & “The Box with Pearl Inlay”  (+ BP #80’s “Andrew’s War” & “Down at the Hardware Store”; BP #79’s “Cellmates” & “Get Some Shelter,” BP #78’s “All Is as It Should Be,” BP #77’s “Essence of Andrew,” BP #76’s “Flirting with the Alley,” BP #75’s “The Enemy of My Enemy…” BP #74’s “Doesn’t Play Well with Others,” BP #73’s “A Journey Starts with a Flower,” BP #72’s “The Beach House,” BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites,” BP #70’s “Borrowing Some Love” and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good Help…”), is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled Loosely, Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows, Cheapjack Pulp, Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights, Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme of Absence, The Screech Owl, The Story Shack, & Yellow Mama.

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